WW II has long been considered a watershed moment in American history where democracy prevailed. The experiences of Japanese Americans pose a challenge to this interpretation. Why?
Although Americans regards World War II as the watershed moment in American history, the experience of Japanese Americans has posed a challenge to this interpretation. According to the then United States president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the internment aimed at facilitating national security. However, by considering the manner in which America soldiers mistreated the Japanese Americans during internment process and the WWII, it was clear that the internment aimed at meeting other economic, political, and social objectives. The Roosevelt internment order gave an opportunity for America soldiers to destroy the Japanese properties in America. In addition, the Japanese American internment also witnessed inhumane relocation of over 110 00 people from Japanese heritage (Starr 17).
During the evacuation process, the Japanese Americans were denied an opportunity to present their grievances to the president’s order thus putting the America democracy in question. The America soldiers also applied the internment order in a discriminatory manner. The Japanese Americans who resided in the West Coast were not interned while those who lived in Hawaii were forced to evict their areas of resident with immediate effects. In this respect, the power and force that evicted the Japanese from America subjected them into severe pains and frustrations. Within a span of one week, members of Japanese ancestry were forced to assemble at an assembly centre near their homes. Without understanding the reasons for their eviction from their home, the Japanese Americans were permanently relocated to restricted centres that were guarded by American military officers. In their new centre, the Japanese did not get most of their basic rights including right to assemble, right of association and movement rights.
The Japanese relocation centres were many miles away from their home and in a remote area. The living condition in their new location was also very poor. Four or five families who have very limited possession and clothing had to share tar-papered barracks. School going children also lost opportunity to access education while old people did not get access to healthcare facilities. Japanese who confronted American soldiers were transferred to special camps in California and Tule Lake. The internment Japanese sparked a political debate and constitutional crises in America. Two legal professionals moved to court challenging the curfew order and relocation order. However, despite their effort of protecting their petition, the America court dropped their case due to technical issues (Lyon 88).
What historical dynamics, including social, economic and political factors, allowed for the internment of Japanese Americans?
The internment of Japanese America prompted various political, social, and economic factors. Essentially, President Roosevelt used the executive order 9066 to authorise the internment. In this order, the military was supposed to relocate Japanese into a restricted place in America. Economically, the Japan was a major American competitor in the global market. Japan was renowned for producing high quality products that outdated the America products. As a result, there was growing hatred between Japan and United States of America. Additionally, the increase in the number of Japanese community in America posed a very serious threat to Americans in labour market. Most of the Japanese immigrants were well skilled and experienced to work in American industries. Therefore, American employers preferred Japanese employees due to their competence and skills (Hirabayashi, and Lane 122). To counter the ever-increasing number of Japanese in United States, the US Congress passed a resolution to prohibit Japanese immigration to America. The Bill also aimed at reducing the number of Japanese students in American universities. The Japanese American also had very reputable business in America and in many other parts of the world. The Japanese entrepreneurship skills were therefore a major threat to the America economic development. Researchers and historians link the internment order to economic competition between United States and Japanese. Social differences between Japanese and Americans are also associated with the Japanese America internment order. As opposed to American cultural beliefs that focus on individual performance, the Japanese culture is largely based on teamwork and support. Accordingly, the belief in teamwork helped Japanese to prosper in America economy. Japanese are also more inclined to communist beliefs as opposed to capitalism that governs American economy. Historically, there has been consistent conflict between capitalist countries and communist countries. The resolution to relocate the Japanese America was also motivated by the conflicting social and cultural beliefs between Japanese and American. For example, family setting between the two countries was the major cause of the internment against Japanese American (Lyon 89).
Politically, prior to the commencement of the WWII, there was disagreement between the Japanese and American government over Japanese migration to America. This was mainly due to the adoption of a Bill by American Congress restricting Japanese migration into America. On the other hand, the Japanese supported the American opponent in both World War I and II. Therefore, apart from Imperial Japan's attack on Pearl Harbour, the internment of Japanese Americans was facilitated by other political, social, and economic historical dynamics (Hirabayashi, and Lane 123).
What was the impact on Japanese American communities during and after the war?
The internment of Japanese Americans had a severe impact on Japanese American community. Many internees lost properties during the war due to the restriction of the properties that were supposed to be at their camps. This loss was also compounded by destruction of properties and theft of items that were in government stores. In addition, a number of Japanese American community members lost their lives due to poor health facilities and lack of other basic social amenities in the camp. The Japanese American community also suffered from psychological trauma and injuries. For example, a good number of Japanese populations in America suffered from severe depression, feeling of personal insecurity, and the development of sense of hopelessness (Houston and James 66).
Some Japanese also sold some their properties and land at a loss to meet the set deadlines of evacuating their land. After the war, the America government prohibited Japanese American from owning land in United States. The adoption of alien land laws also forced many tenant farmers to loss the ownership of their land. To demonstrate some democracy, the America government requested the Japanese America to apply for the compensation of the properties that were lost and destroyed during the evacuation process. However, despite the existence of the law that regulates the compensation of the lost properties, the Japanese American community was not fully compensated their lost properties.
How did the experiences of men and women differ during the internment?
During the entire internment exercise, there were huge differences between Japanese America women experience and male internees’ experiences. In the internment exercise, men were more aggressive and they consistently resisted the evacuation process. On their side, although they opposed the process, women struggled silently. In the internment exercise, men took care of their resources while women had the responsibility of ensuring that family members were peaceful during the stressful episode (Starr 37). Men who resisted the evacuation process encountered endless torture from the America soldiers. In the camp, women were supposed to pursue household chores while men had the responsibility of pursuing technical roles and responsibilities. The entire process also witnessed the movement of a huge number of men to special camps for disturbing American soldiers. There were also those women who blamed American soldier for sexually mishandling them. Compared to their male counterpart, many women suffered from emotional and psychological health challenges. Therefore, although the core aim of the internment of Japanese Americans was secluding Japanese from economic activities, the entire evacuation process had very severe and diverse impacts to the community social and emotional health (Lyon 89).
What does the Japanese American internment suggest about the nature of American democracy?
Both conventional and modern democrats have so far described the internment of Japanese Americans as the worst civil violation of human rights by the federal government in the twentieth century. Although there were some government officials who worked towards ensuring peaceful implementation of the entire process, this exercise brought about very severe torture and suffering to the internees (Houston and James 67). By referring to the internment of Japanese Americans and ideas and suggestions from historians and political analysis, the Japanese internment significantly undermined the America democracy. Although America is the pioneers and initiator of democracy in the world, the internment of Japanese Americans was contrary to democratic principles and guidelines.
During the entire internment of Japanese Americans exercise, Japanese did not get their democratic right of expressing their view and opinions. Moreover, the internees were denied their rights to movement and own properties. By considering some historical factors that could have resulted to the implementation of the internment of Japanese Americans order, United States was using undemocratic ways to dominate Japanese in the global market. Democracy requires free and fair competition in local and international market. However, United States federal government failed to apply democratic principles in the compensation process. Some individuals lost a huge amount of resources during the evacuation process but they did not get compensation from the American federal government. It is therefore factual and appropriate to state that although United States of America understands the importance of democracy, the country do not uphold democratic principle to the fullest. Using force to gain economic, political, and social influence over other countries or community presents a total contravention of democratic principles. Despite the quest of outshining others economically, socially or politically, countries should stick to the principles of democracy to avoid suffering and destruction of resources while fostering peaceful co-existence.
Hirabayashi, and Lane Ryo. The Politics of Fieldwork: Research in an American Concentration Camp. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1999. Print
Houston, Jeanne W, and James D. Houston. Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War Ii Internment. New York, NY: Ember, 2012. Print.
Lyon, Cherstin M. Prisons and Patriots: Japanese American Wartime Citizenship, Civil Disobedience, and Historical Memory. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2012.Print
Starr, Kevin. California: A History. New York, NY: Modern Library, 2007. Print.